Archive for April 26th, 2010


Once a Photographer, Always a Photographer

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Yesterday's Memories

Looking at a friend’s recent photos posted on her Facebook profile, I was reminded of a different time many years ago when the most complicated part of my life was keeping the dust off of a camera lens.

Just as the personal computer age began (late 70s/early 80s), I had developed a very serious attraction to the hobby of photography. Back then, 35mm film was all the rage, and after borrowing a camera for about two weeks during the summer of ’79, I was hooked. Unfortunately, the cost of buying a new camera always seemed to be just out of reach, and there was nothing like eBay around back then.

Toward the end of 1981, I finally had enough income from a steady job to afford a camera. My choice? A Minolta XG-A. It was a clean, basic 35mm camera, really sharp for its day, and could take excellent photos. It was about as perfect a choice for a first “serious” camera as I could have made. Starting from a simple kit with a camera and a standard lens, I soon added lenses and a flash to my collection, as well as a tripod and special effects filters. To top it all off, I got a large camera bag to hold all these little bits and pieces.

I was in heaven! My camera went everywhere I did, and I annoyed more than my share of friends, family, and college roommates with all my picture-taking. I sought out new people, places, and things to be subjected to my photographic onslaught. I experimented with different types of film, from basic color and black & white to slides and professional portrait films.

My little Minolta served me well through my college years. After leaving school behind, I decided I wanted to move up to a better camera with more features. I traded away the XG-A and purchased a new Minolta X-570 to use with my old lenses. It was another great model, with enough bells and whistles to keep me busy for a very long time.

I was soon off doing even more shooting than before. I was invited by friends to photograph their weddings, which I gladly did; for a time I even flirted with the idea of developing a side business in wedding photography, but never followed through.

By the early 90’s my equipment was starting to show its age. Newer camera “systems” were coming out with better features and greater capabilities than ever before. I decided to take the plunge and start over with all new equipment. After many months of research and  hands-on testing I decided on the Canon EOS Elan. By then zoom lenses were the standard, and the lens that came with this camera was excellent for general purpose work.

Soon after getting the camera, my life started to change dramatically: I got married and started a family. My photography continued for a while, taking pictures of babies turning to toddlers, but as life got busier my time got shorter, and I was spending more of it working and caring for my family; as a result, the time I could spend working with my camera slipped away. It would come out of its bag for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas, but otherwise it sat alone and forgotten in a corner of my closet.

About three years ago, all my business travel finally paid off in the form of a gift, a Canon Digital Rebel XT. With no more film to purchase and with images available instantly, it was easier to find a few minutes here and there to take a few photos. But still for the most part, both cameras (yes, I still have the Elan) have sat in silence.

Recently, my interests in photography have started to increase. The source of my interest has been the postings of photos by two friends on their Facebook pages. One has been posting very artistic photos for months, and they always catch my eye; the other hasn’t been posting as long, but many of her images remind me so much of the types of photos I used to take that it’s hard for me to not take notice. Between the two of them, especially the latter, I have felt a groundswell of desire to pick up the camera once again.

But which should I use? The Digital Rebel is pretty good, and film does have its limits – you get one chance per shot with film, so you have to really be on your toes to capture the right moment. But, there’s something about taking a picture on film that digital images simply can’t capture – a warmth of color and feeling that electronic sensors can’t detect and memory cards can’t record. Perhaps the thing to do is try them both and see which one works best for my interests.

Either way I decide, it surely promises to be a grand adventure. Look out world, my camera and I are coming back!